tv Public Affairs CSPAN February 18, 2013 5:00pm-8:00pm EST
parties, and campaign finance reform." he has a forthcoming book on campaign finance law -- the matter of money and politics in the united states." he serves on the academic advisory board of the campaign finance institute here in washington and resurged be received his bachelor's of art from harvard and his doctorate from the university of california berkeley. welcome back cato. >> thank you for having me. what can i say about the impact of citizens united? likable academic, i will say it's too soon to tell and we need more research. when this is done, i will speculate. i'm worried about what is happening to party organizations. it's not entirely the fault of citizens united but that in combination with speech now has made it far much worse for parties. i the more money should flow
through political parties and civic groups because at least in theory parties are more accountable and tend to use their money to help challenges and are less inclined to support extremist, which is no small matter in today's polarized environment. here we go. thank you. here are some trends i see and how citizen as united plays into them. it did not cause them but it greases the wheels, especially since 2000 to when congress passed the bi-partisan campaign reform act. there is a redistribution of money away from can't attend toward groups. candidates are chiefly responsible but more is spent by others and for a while was political parties but it is non- party groups and citizens united cracked up this dynamic. there are strong incentives for
collective action by partisans. national politics today is about high-stakes elections. both parties have a chance to control government and have very different views about what should be done. because of this, parses want to organize and coordinate but campaign finance laws but restraint of that. laws were designed during canada-centered elections and parties to an answer that much. we did it matter that much. we knew where the money was coming from. now we have super pacs and there is a severe mismatch between a high stakes system an old- fashioned laws that force money outside the regulated system and things will only get worse as every member of congress wants their own super pac and we're
going to have an arms race. i don't see it becoming evidence that citizens united will have an impact on this. let me start with redistribution. total spending did not explode like many said. at least it doesn't seem that way from initial estimates. total spending was about the same or slightly less compared to 2008 based on estimates by the center for responsive politics. re close to the previous election and it includes all spending. same is true for congressional elections. total spending seems to have declined by 300 million. this makes sense because the house was not in play the way it was in 2010. here is the redistribution i'm
talking about. the presidential general election shows redistribution from party organizations to non- party groups. he shows a pattern which cannot be attributed to citizens united. citizens united made it more stark. interest groups finance less than 10%. you can see the shift when party starts losing soft money and after citizens united, just 6% of that are funded by parties compared to 36% from other groups. the party committees still out advertise other groups. nonparty groups are increasing their advertising. this illustrates two points. this reflects my argument that
collective organizing was increasingly important with majority stakes government and polarized parties. parties but a key role in the 1990's. this is being challenged by non- party groups. starting in 2004, it flattens. in 2002, it searches thanks to its citizens united. it is far easier to support supertax. when people ask me why supertax, i say don't blame it sheldon adelson. -- why super pacs. we talk about how parties help solve these collective action problems, but here is the problem -- a campaign finance system makes it tougher because a contrarian -- it constrains the party so much. it started with the federal election campaign act. the logical thing is candid its control their own campaigns.
individuals -- alternately there is a great system for incumbents. they build a huge war chest and vastly else than challengers. but in the party system changed in the 1990's with intense competition. that fec promoted an inefficient distribution system of money. the parties were treated marginally better than interest groups. the response was to use soft money to help more candidates and more close races. when the soft money was shot off, the parties turned to independent spending. sadly, some of the surgeons of money could have been avoided if the federal election campaign act had been adjusted for inflation. if the $20,000 limit was adjusted for inflation, the
parties could receive $94,000 per year or close to $200,000 per election cycle. i did a study of the 1990 election that shows just 1% of soft money contributions greater than $100,000. simply making these inflationary adjustments might have solved the soft money problem. 99% would have been acceptable except for some source monday. we actually made it even worse and put the vice tighter on parties that the original federal election campaign that which was not too kind to parties. the value of a contribution in $1,974 was just $5,000. this is after people who promoted it said this is good for parties that we are raising -- what about in terms of the value of that money back in '74? so where you go?
you go to superpacs. what i am trying to show -- collecting -- collective action is going on. what these charts show is clusters of donors compared with 20 years ago. the out lyres are those who spend dagon select groups of candidates. targeted, coordinated strategies. rectangles are clusters with incumbents. diamonds have non-incumbents. the ellipses have mostly challenges. in the 1990's, you see evidence groups are targeting non- incumbents on the republican side. but mostly it's in the middle pursuing similar strategies, supporting incumbents. with get 2010. there are unique allies with
groups like club for growth and the nra with highly -- the median amount coming from these groups is much larger today and this gets to brad's point because it includes independent spending, unlike 1990. if you know all this, but the larger conceptual point is parties are clearly relying more on allied interests groups to do with party organizations typically do and that is to find their challengers. it's a double-edged sword. these challengers are better supported that never. maybe there is more competition, but they are supported by groups i would argue have rather narrow political agendas and this dynamic is probably a source of polarization. citizens united will probably give more electoral influence to these groups.
but here is the puzzle. it's not clear citizens united is having much influence at all. i'm not even sure all of the spending is making a difference. it might just be an arms race. the was the basic analysis of the 2012 elections at northwestern and they found no impact of total outside spending on chair and house races. not nearly enough to affect these races. republicans clearly have a financial advantage. but if you look at the blue dots to the right of the line, they lost a lot of these races. there's no correlation.
all of these republicans had extra spending. another way of looking at this is a way to see it's going on in the american states. we look at states that put in place corporate spending bands and union spending bands since the 1960's. we look at election outcomes and want to know if democrats did better if corporate banks helped them. any deviation from the middle line -- you can see the coefficients are really small, almost zero. often the opposite of what we expected. republicans benefited in kentucky, so go figure.
we also look at whether they did better and found no evidence it's having any effect. been over all, i would say citizens united has accelerated the flow of money to groups but it's not clear how much difference it made in election outcomes. nonetheless, candidates may perceive this money matters and guess what, perception often matters. these groups are going to get attention from candidates because they fear the more they want their support. the parties are a much weaker position and i see that continuing. incumbents in both parties are anxious about this spending they cannot control. they might try to ease the law's on parties and bring back some form of soft money.
i doubt that's going to happen. more than likely, every member of congress will aspire to have their own superpac. then we are truly in a campaign environment with parallel worlds. this is the matrix. one world is heavily regulated and one that is not. side by side. i will stop there and take questions. [applause] >> great stuff. i am reminded of his colleagues and former teacher he said to me recently at the time of mccain- fine gold, we thai -- we tried to tell reformers of the pass this, you're going to weaken the party's. but i want to get to questions and answers. all lot of people have come in
since we started. many luminaries of campaign finance and the washington area are here today. just raise your hand that waited till the microphone arrives. then identify yourself and disclosure is voluntary. you can say who you are affiliated with if you want to or not. please indicate if you want to direct your question to one panelist or the other or all three. also have your question in the form of a question. let's start with the gentleman down front here. >> i'm curious if mr. bauer wants to respond to the point that was made about the effects on the parties of these trends. i don't think you talked a lot
about that. the other speakers mentioned that as a major trend and possible concern and whether you see it as a concern or something that should be dealt with? >> setting aside the question of what can be done about, that raises a very interesting academic for a theoretical question about the extent to which political party development is shaped or affected by legal regulation, whether the law can actually build a successful political party. on the other hand, a lot can affect the availability of resources. without any question, i don't think this is even something anybody spends -- need to spend time arguing about. it's one of the few points that could be removed from the typical contention from the campaign finance debate.
parties were shut off from certain resources to the bipartisan campaign reform act, mccain-fine gold. those are available to other actors and the political process and there's no question parties have been dealt a significant blow in the financing available to them through legislative developments in recent years. party financing could be restored at or what is defined as hard money could be redefined. limits could be increased further. is it's not clear if there any move in that direction. >> any other questions? the gentleman in the back.
>> on with the friends committee on national legislation. do the speaker's seat congress taking up the these issues in the next two years? >> some people are closer than i am but i don't see this coming in at all. the president has an agenda that doesn't seem to include this as far as i can tell. the legislators are so far apart on this issue that they can't even agree on basic transparency laws. i get the sense republicans want to increase money for of parties. democrats strategically seem to do pretty well working with outside groups. maybe it is from their legacy of working with unions. i don't see them doing that.
know whethero there will be further deregulation. >> but it's unlikely congress will do anything for the reasons that ray has mentioned. the insistence of a pro regulatory community is that nothing has changed. they have offered the same solutions that offer for 30 years. more limits, more restrictions, grind everybody down, and that's a nonstarter. it's not going to go anyplace. the well has largely been poisoned even on something like basic disclosure. be disclosingto
every $300 or $500 donor. there are reasons why people might want to protect their anonymity. but quite frankly, chuck schumer poisoned the well on this two years ago. when they introduced the disk was that as a rapidly partisan act that would have prohibited a lot of speech that was legal before citizens united. the deterrent effect shouldn't be underestimated. i don't see there's going to be anything that would come before that, otherwise there might be a chance for some reform regulation on disclosure. that would do away with what we would call junk disclosure or
serves no real public purpose at all. >> i would only be guessing, but there has been a significant development in the back -- in the campaign finance reform debate. the conflict over the disclose act -- many of those skeptical about regulation in the past have argued at many of them are to be found in the republican party, even if there are significant risks to expenditure limits and contribution limits, that the answer lay in disclosure. that argument has radically shift on the republican side in a way that is quite alarming to the proponents of transparency in the sense that rather than beating transparency as maybe the core appropriate measure the government can take in campaign
finance regulation, it's viewed as the means by which the government smokes out its enemies are partisans and the government spoke out their enemies so they can either intimidate them or take further action against them. it has shifted the debate on transparency dramatically from one where there was some bipartisan consensus to one or bipartisan consensus is a appearing to collapse. having said that, there is a view, and i don't want to overstate this, that some measure of transparency is necessary and there are concerns we're headed into a direction where we are going to see less of it. brad says, and have no reason to doubt him, that there is an overstatement republic debate about this rick -- this election-related advertising. maybe it's not explicit but it
is intended to influence elections. he believes there is less of this undisclosed spending than people imagine, but as i said earlier, one would have to be worried about a trend. one would have to worry what we're seeing now may or may not be an indicator of what we would see in the not too distant future. i think there will be an active debate at some point, but i don't know when. as a larger question whether congress would take any substantive action, given the legal environment in which we are operating, there's a lot of uncertainty about what to do. exactly what ways to shore up the bottle, and i think that's one of citizens united legacies, to underscore the resistance the federal judiciary is putting up to some of the steps that congress would have to take to strengthen the campaign finance
regulation regime. >> in d.c., we always tend to focus on congress but there is likely to be more action in the states. we see a number of states doing different things, including states talking about doing some of the things that have been suggested, liberalizing the regime for parties or raising contribution limits substantially while others are still trying to figure out ways that if we could just crack down on the staff, all of their problems would go away. the states are more likely where we will see action. >> clearly the most important person now as to whether anything will happen is senator mitch mcconnell. we don't know what's going to happen to the filibuster in the next few days but it seems unlikely he will be totally deprived of it. his views are a matter of public record, including a speech back in the spring -- and i'm told
also senator mcconnell, people who purport to know his views, feels on the been like disclosure that he has this extreme slippery slope idea. any kind of movement on things that would seem to have support, he is worried about it but he believes with mccain-fine colt that he wasn't forthcoming. -- mccain-fine gold, that he was forthcoming. he ultimately got rolled down the hill. his strategy was to simply say no. that would suggest it is the case, and i don't have any real insight that would suggest there is not a broad scope for doing anything.
but it is because of what happened in the past in this area, at this area has long passed. >> -- has a long past. centera reporter at the for public integrity. we heard a little bit today about the importance of nonprofit that the vehicle for citizen engagement and collective action, whether it's express advocacy or issue advocacy. recently, the obama campaign has decided to roll over much of its apparatus into a 501c4. reformers often talk about the worry of large donations going to a group whether it's a political committee or this type of committee and i don't know if you were helpful in setting the
501c4 up, but i was wondering how risky it might be to have a city -- a sitting president working for or raising money for a 501c4. >> i have not attempted to separate my comments -- i do represent organizing for action, which is the name of the organization you are referring to. i would simply say as you know, i will not be involved in electoral activity at all. to bet sense, it's not confused with activity in an election cycle, the types of concerns the campaign finance sector we're talking about here today. as you know, it is devoted to
federal and state public policy and issue development advocacy. it will be operating therefore as a social welfare organization. without going into tremendous amount of discussion about people's views of the feasibility of such an enterprise, i would say this -- the business of communicating on issues in this country and involving one's self in the day- to-day business of grass-roots requires resources. the largest issue we all face is in a country of this size and complexity and even with developments like internet communications which have reduced the cost of participation in some respects, there are significant issues of resources that you face in engaging in what is healthy,
robust, significant political activity in this country. to the extent there are large resources required, there are steps you can take to manage for any of the risks you identified. those measures include disclosure and organizing for action will be disclosing its donors. >> that gentleman in the back at his hand up. we will try to get to everyone. >> and bill allison from the sunlight foundation. when we are talking about superpacs -- not really talking about outside spending groups -- when you look at these organizations, some like 95% of that have a former rnc chairman or formal -- former
congressional committees -- they are usually former insiders running these organizations. is the problem here much more what was impressed at the fec with the understanding that what you have is a revolving door problem. if the old party officials taking the money and have their role and are able to contact members of congress and administration officials, is that the situation we are in? not that this is an outside spending problem as it is a revolving door problem? >> i don't know what it would be exactly. any group spending money is likely to be run by allies of the candidate. there are a limited number of people who know how to do this type of work effectively and to what to do it. sometimes we see these things saying it's really independent,
it's run by a former adviser -- of course it is. it's not going to be read by some guy who's never been active in politics a single day and his wife and wakes up and says that going to start a $20 million superpac to support mitt romney. i'm not so sure you can say it's a revolving door. we usually mean between people working in government and the people working in the private sector and cashing in other contexts, not people cashing in -- of people working in the privacy -- in the private sector and moving to a different job in the private sector at cashing in on their contacts. most of these people have not banned government employees in the traditional way we think about the revolving door, like karl rove, not like he was a commissioner on the sec.
i think there is a big mistake often about what it means to say something is coordinated and why coordination is prohibited. at the most core level, coordinated activity counts as an expenditure in a contribution to the candidate because when to put limits on the candidate, you do not want to say, here is a copy of my campaign literature, it would be helpful if you could distribute a million copies of this in these places. that is the same as a contribution. it also served the purpose of doing away with a difficult burden of proof issue. prior to watergate, you could walk into a congressman's office, leave some cash, and say, i hope you are going to support that bill. there is a campaign contribution, but i'd just as leave nobody knew about it. you could do that.
that was an open invitation to bribery to people not knowing what conversations went on. it is not that the court really meant they had influence on a person, they said they are not corrupting and the sense that people are not sitting down and have think that's the same conversation. i will give you this money, i will spend it this way, and the candidate says here is what i need you to do. it is an effort to extend bribery law into an area where the burden of proof was difficult. we make a big mistake in thinking that somehow at the kids and allies of a candidate are going to have nothing to do with a candidate, they will not be identified as supporters, that they will not have contacts with the conduct at -- with the candid. it is an extreme position to think we can do away with that
and have plate, rollers that are isolated from public opinion. that will not happen. i do not think that answer gets us closer, in the assumption has reflected realistically on what the reason is for prohibiting coordinated expenditures and treating them as contributions. >> my concern about super pacs is you have all the political talent moving outside the accountable channels, and they can draw huge salaries. little cost control. that is one thing, that you will see a draft the people in the party. they can coordinate with other groups. it is crazy that political parties cannot be part of that, and i think it is great candidate -- the graph i showed of these out lyders, those are
clusters -- outlies, they are coordinating. the recent i am on this promotion of parties is i like to see consultants are doing people, officials, about where to spend the money. i like that internal combat. it makes people more campbell to each other, they get their messages to get it. that is what the broad coalition of parties is about. that is my concern about super pacs. >> another question? the gentleman on the aisle. >> i would like to follow up on the super pacs from a slightly different angle, because i found it interesting, or last point, where you mentioned the incumbents are panicking so they are setting up super pacs. when you look at the politically
active super pacs in two dozen trucks, 48.9% of them were dedicated to a single candidate, just one candidate. doesn't this suggest that perhaps incumbents are indeed setting up super pacs and that as a result perhaps it would justify regulating super pacs under the same rules that apply to candidates? >> yeah, that is exactly what is happening. i do not know how you are going to regulate it. lawyers could respond better, but i see that -- it is obvious the candidate is getting his or her consultants to say set this up and protect me and help me. that is obvious. i cannot see -- it gets to how aggressive is the fec or the irs
going to get in helping with regulating these? it is beyond my -- >> a great many of the super pa cs not related to a single candidate. you have to think about using the assumption as correct, but what is the sporting purpose, principle, that you could treat everyone that they are the same as the candidate. that has been rejected in decisions talking about independent speech. i think there are minor changes that one could consider. the fec regulations were written for a candidate's ability to select prior to the citizens use psych -- united decision, and even the speech now, the idea of
a single-candidate super pac, but you might tweak rules regarding solicitation so candidate cannot solicit for a super pacs that is only supporting to do a blanket assertion that we are part to treat them the same is exactly what the courts have struck down and the thinking that takes the approach that he essentially we are all criminals and we -- and the government needs to be protected from us rather than most of us engaged in public speech and political participation because we want good things and we are good people, and maybe we need to be protected from the government. >> to stick to all law -- and not to the public policy -- i think the fact you have a large percentage in the aggregate inpas devoted to a particular
candidate, does not get you around a constitutional issues. the fact you have that pacs devoted to a particular candidate, that there are a lot of them, will not help you navigate around the legal problem, the way the law has been set out at the time. the fact that the people involved in super pacs are supporters of the candidate they had had prior relationships to that candidate, is not enough. even if there's a whole host of such pacs to get your around obstacles to regulation. that is pretty clear. , gentleman on the iaisle., final question. >> thank you. i want to raise a bit broader issue here. from its inception, campaign
finance regulations and that massive amount we have today has been testified as a way of preventing corruption, or its appearance, by which the court has said quid pro quo, and yet we have heard little about that this morning. brad got close to the issue. mr. bauer spoke about an alternative about a level playing field, and has given that short shrift. how much at does this rationale play in any of the minutia that this cottage industry that you folks belong to is engaged in, or what other rationales are at play in this? >> it is a living, roger. >> i will comment, try to be
brief, which is hard for me. i think first there is an important difference between influence and corruption, and i think one of the things that court has rejected is influence equals corruption. politics is all about influence, and one, that there said if we had equal influence, why would anybody participate in politics? why would we come to washington? some of these people -- this obama guy has tons of influence. so we all have influence. you can think about that, we all have an equal influence, and the court rejected that idea. increasingly, because the court has rejected the quality rationale, or form arguments which are primarily in my view
at least at the academic level based on equality, themselves or disguise themselves in the corruption argument, and as a result they further confuse. they talk about it being corrective -- corruptive. when you look at that actual legislation were ideas get ground into legislation, often times equality all has something to do with it. we have to stand by your ad provision. brad smith and i approve this message because you idiots could not figure out that the campaign was approved by me. that is how i would do my disclaimer if i were running. why was that there? the congressional effect --
record is very clear. they thought it would reduce the attack ads on them, reduce negative adds, and you saw a lot feingold n the mccain- amendment. this is one -- and you see it in the enforcement process where complaints are partisan driven, and this is one of the problems with the idea that you can have a benign regime of political activity. you cannot do it. it's all all be bound up in the partisan politics of the day, and that makes it a dangerous area for the government to regulate. >> this is a cottage industry looking at corruption in the quid pro quo cents, and it centsdevolved it arguments over statistical modelling. we cannot demonstrate whether
someone is being corrupted by getting contributions. the research has gone more into an agenda setting to see how members might not talk about issues or push other issues. that is one of my fears of the super pacs, they have a powerful role in the agenda setting, and the threat of torre money into a race can make people not discuss issues. that is where discussion is moving now. it is not open to the law. dunlop is built on a quid pro quo corruption. i do not know where you go from there. >> it is true that in its most starkly expressed form, the quality rational is this go distinguishable. if you imagine a world in which there were a handful of
speakers, responsible for funding campaigns, then somebody would have concern date would be able to call upon the people who they funded for a sense of obligation, and that that leads to come erupt -- leads to corrupt government. there is a quality argument that gets treated separate, but it is not altogether separate and is always a concern. secondly, the appearance of corruption and corruption, the court has said loosely it would support a government regulation in campaign finance to the extent you have gross inequality in the access to campaign finance opportunities, access to participation in the electoral process. there is obviously a potential threat to public confidence that the government is really working
on behalf of the broader public interest. lastly, the member of a cottage industry, i was glad you raised the question about, one of the waste corruption flips away in a highly regulated system from focus and something else takes his place is in the conception that even the supreme court has discussed in circumvention, where the conduct being challenged is not corrupt, it is conduct that is effectively thought to get a round of roles, thought to circumvent the rules, so the thought is an attack to the conduct in relation to the law. and of members and the mccain- feingold were to address circumvention, primarily a threat to the law that was a bulwark against corruption.
the munition it is who is trying to get around the law? >> we are now going to go to our break. the coffee will be available in the winter garden. go out and take a left and go out toward the front of the building. for our nextback a panel, and join me in thanking our three expert panelists. >> more on the 2010 decisions that corporations have the right to unlimited spending. we from the chairman of the federal election commission and several scholars. this is just over an hour and a half. >> thank you, michael, and i am happy to be here at cato. i want to set up a description of the problem, and want to
react to the characterization of that problem from this morning. there was a report that was published last week that tries to put the recent election in some context, and so this morning you heard the claim that effectively citizens united and the subsequent decisions represented no change. here is the outside spending before citizens united, and after citizens united. that is a distinguished -- that is a difference that even a statistician could notice. [laughter] also the claim that there was not much secret money. here is the amount of money per we have no way to identify who the donor was. that is also a suggestion that the existing system is good for the challengers, not so good for incumbents. the reelection rates have been going up in the senate, stayed
the same in the house, and if you look at funding differences in the house bursa's challenges, house incumbents raised 5.4 times the amount of money as challengers, and senate incumbents raised 4.2 times the amount of challengers. that is my disagreement with the suggestion of this morning, but here's my agreement. i do not think that -- i think we are obsessing too much on this decision by the supreme court. i do not think citizens united is the problem. to understand the problem, i need to tell you a story, and i am told all stories begin something like this -- what's upon a time there was a place called lesterland. cannot tell you this, said it is a secret cannot but my first name is lester, so i am here to make fun of lester barrett it
looks a lot like the united states, has about 300 million people, and of the 300 million people, 144,000 of them are named lester, which means .05% of people are named lester. there are a two election cycles esterland. in electil the general election, all citizens over 18 get to vote. here is the trick -- in order to run in the general collection, you must do extremely well in the lester election. do not necessarily have to win. what can we say about this picture? we can see the people in have influence
over officials, but only after their way withwi canada's. number two, we can say dependent on the lesters, we will produce a spending to keep these lesteres happy. number three, or for that anchored the lesters is highly unlikely. that is the picture of lesterland. problem in our government is not citizens united. i want to suggest the problem is lesterland. number one, the united states is lesterland. the united states has to elections, when is the general collection, the other is the
money election. in the general election, citizens get to vote, and in the money election it is the founder who gets to vote. the same catch to run in the general election, one must do extremely well in the money election. you do not have to win, but you have to do well. there are just as few relevant funders in our democracy as inere are lesters an lesterland. really? .3% of americans gave money in the 2000 election. .05% gave the maximum amount in the 2012 election. .01% gave $10,000 or more in the to doesn't 12th election.
.003% gave $100,000 or more. .00042%, 159 americans, gave 60% of the super pacs money spent in the 2012 election. i think it is fair for me to say .05% is a good estimate of the relevant funders, and these flanders are our lesters. if you think about the great stuff said about the small dollar contributions in 2012, total amount was $330 million. 34 lesters gave as much as all the small dollar numbers combined.
this is what we can say isu.s. land. citizens united is ultimately correct. as in lesterland, only after the funders have had their way with the candidate who want to prevail in that general election. number 2, obviously this dependence on funders produces a subtle understated bending to keep these blunders happy. candidate spent anywhere between 30% and 70% of their time to raise money to get their party back into power. as any of us will it. they develop a sixth sense about out what they do will affect your ability to raise money. they become shape shifters, as they adjust their views and light of what they will no to help them raise money.
a democrat from virginia said always been to the green -- always lean to the green. point that reformsnchor the founders, is highly unlikely. the united states is worse than lesterland. you can imagine if we lesters get a letter say you can pick the candidate is, you and magic you can aspire to some aristocracy of ideals to make the government a better place. lesters come from all parts of society. we might think it is our job to act in the interest of lesterland. it is possible that lesters act
for the good of lesterland. shifting coalition of people who comprise .05% are driven by issues just over the horizon that congress will address after that election. in this sense the united states is worse than lesterland. whenever one wants to say about lesterland, in usaland, lesterland it is a corruption. by which i do not mean cash in brown paper bags to members of congress, by which i do not mean rot but " if judge -- rod blagojevich corruption. i mean corruption relative to the framers' baseline.
they gave us what they called a republic. by republic they met a representative democracy. by and representative democracy, in the words of madison, they met a government that would have a branch that would be dependent upon the people of low. the people and the government. producing an exclusive dependency and so would the public could be found through that exclusive dependency. here is the problem -- congress has evolves a different dependency, the dependence upon the people alone, but increasingly a dependence on the funders. this is a dependence. it is different and conflicting from a dependence upon the people alone, so long as the founders are not the people. this is a corruption of the
design and the intended set of influence that the framers gave us in designing our republic. this correction has and the fact. we could mark its effect by thinking about the perception people have our government, because the fact is americans believe and i think they're right to believe money buys results in congress. for a poll that was conducted last fall, we found 75 percent affirmed that claim, higher democrats than republicans. here is the one thing we all believe -- money buys results in congress. that belief weekends trust in the way the institution functions. last year it was found that 9% of americans expressed confidence in congress. that number is probably 5% now prepared we have to think about
this number now in context. it was the case at the time of the revolution that higher number of people had confidence in the british crown and the people who have confidence in congress today. rock the vote turned out the voters in 2000oung from. they found in 2010 a significant number of new voters were not going to but. the number one reason was no matter who wins, corporate interests will have to much power and present -- and prevent real change. it is not just kids. the vast majority of people who could have voted in 2010 did not vote because of this belief, and even in this election, 40% who voted -- who could have voted
did not cut. it is not mere perception because as -- this perception has any effect, any effect on how people and gates with their government, which is reason enough to draw to a system that might change that perception. let's focus on a reality. by reality i mean economy of our political system. this correction has its own economy. the economy as two components. one is an economy of stop, and the other is the economy of extortion. the economy of stop drives us to point to andho instability in our government. any system where the tiniest slice of the public dominates in
the funding produces a system where a tiny number of americans can effectively block any change. it will always be that or at least almost always be that in the context where some much dependence exists on such a tiny number of participants. it is just a couple thousands who have to band together with these contributions to effectively make it possible that in our structure of separated powers you can block any change. this is an economy that depends on polarization. people point to polarization as the cause. it is an effect. it depends on the dysfunction, because the more dysfunctional the institution is, the easier it is to sell this opportunity to block. this function is the business model, which is what a journalist points out lobbyists
who profit from the dysfunction of this are fighting against the reform of the senate, which might weaken the opportunity to block a change. the point is if you stand back from all of these issues anybody cares about, whether it is health care reform on the left or a government bailout on the right, global warming on the left, complex tax system on the right, financial or form, if you connect the dots and understand the structure of incentives, we recognize there is no possibility any sensible change until you change this corruption because it is this corruption that makes real change possible. that is the first dynamic for stop. the second dynamic is the coming of extortion. i want to focus on the lesters here, want you to think about the .00014%, the members of
congress. the dependence creates its own dependency. congress, the dependent, creates its own dependency and the society, in the economy, as a way to feed its dependency. two years ago "the wall street rnal" was puzzled about the tax extenders. why is there such a significant rise in these extenders'? the first extender was given to us by reagan. they made it taboret to see if it work. did it work?
democrats and republicans both agreed it work. the puzzle is it is still temporary to this day. why is it? what explant its temporary character? the principal recipients of the research credits are large manufacturing corporations and these entities are more than willing to invest in campaign donations. the institute for policy innovation says this cycle has repeated four years, congress allows the credit to last until another extension is given, preceded by a series of fund- raisers about the importance of nurturing innovation. connors uses this cycle to raise money for reelection, promising interest the more predictability. the dependent create its own dependencies. the about medicare. medicare had something about the sustainable growth rate, a
system to plan to cut the reimbursement rate to doctors. the plan was to cut this each year said that eventually the amount given back to the doctor's office this spirit that has created a cycle that is as predictable as cold januarys in december. every year the doctors getting doc fix, a delay at the reduction, and it comes after enormous amount of lobbying to doctors, flushes and enormous amount of money into the system in exchange for this fix. think about the fiscal clift the decision -- the fiscal cliff legislation. this change at text extenders, the doc fix, but this week it came out that the gift to drug makers, a provision that forced
a change in the way that amgen would be priced. that would be delayed for two more years. the cost to taxpayers with something like $500 million because of that extension. again, and my prediction is that the system will continue to support the extension. it is not just tax policy. this is the telecommunications act. al gore had the idea we restructured this to create a new title vii, which would have all internet-related in for sharp under a, but fundamentally the regulated -- deregulated, far more than what is being discussed now. when his chief took this to capitol hill, no, if we
deregulate these guys, how will we you raise money from them? this is the economy of extortion, because fundraising is the key to the activity that congress engages in. what is the solution? just two minutes. remember, the problem here is not money in the abstract, the problem is not the amount of money. i do not know how much money our system should have in the political system. i support the idea that maybe there should be more money. the problem here is the kind of disciplining practice to invoke a reference -- practice of candidates spending tons of time fund-raising from a tiny slice
of america. it is not a solution to that problem, not even close. my view is we should have disclosure, but it does not solve this problem at all. no change in this dynamic. it is not a solution to talk about the thing that common cause is pushing, using slogans that corporations are not persons that need to be inserted into the constitution. tomorrow, if we could come up there would be no change to the dynamic of tons of time fundraising. it is not quite enough of a reform to talk about the idea that roger talked about to say let's repeal all campaign contribution limits, because while that change was -- would reduce the time you need to fund raise, you might need to talk about -- to 20 people, it would
increase the depends on the tiny slice of the elections. the only solution is to fight a different way to fund the campaign and push people to talk about matching funds. michael's work has been focused on matching funds. the fair elections now at tied this to a subsidy in addition. this would increase the number of small contributions and would not necessarily increase the number of small countries. that is the concern. in my view what would be enough is to think about complementing these matching systems with something was described, a voucher system. i extended this to make participation conditional upon only taking vouchers and small contributions. that idea is being built upon by congressman sarbanes and his
curve, which has a matching funds proposal, and a pilot for the idea of vouchers. theis the idea bechind americans against corruption act. we get more citizens in the project funding campaigns, all citizens played the role of relevant funders, and not just the lesters. thank you very much. [applause] >> i want to thank cato for putting this on. there are not a lot of folks put in charge of federal agencies
that spend their time reading publications from tanks, and there are less people reading publications of cake. it is an honor to be here as someone who has gravitated toward folks who work at kato from time to time. appreciate the opportunity to be here. the topic is citizens united in the future, and there is no wrong answer and it fits into my will house where i get to make up as i go along and some like i know what i'm talking about because i have a title. i do not come from the academic world, from a world where i was in private practice, representing a number of politicians, political actors, consultant, so i come at this from that perspective and from the perspective of someone who grew up in politics, who had family members who bore a
elected officials. when you grow up in that world, that's the normal to me might seem bizarre to those who did not grow up in that were apparent there will be continued cost to fix citizens united. that will not stop the editorial pages. right now there is a push for an amendment. reports are that the president may support at, not that that is relevant to the amendment process. house democrats have a task force, and i have never had to try to get an amendment passed, by understand it takes a super majority of chambers and 3/4 of the states. i am not sure that is a short- term fix. maybe in a couple hundred years it will pass. what does reverse really mean, and it is troubling when i hear
this, because let's remember what the case was about. it is not about making corporations persons for the first time or any of this in flint rhetoric. it was about the government banning a movie that referenced hillary clinton that said it was unfit for her to the commander in chief. it was only banning a movie that would be available on pay- per-view cable. an adult cannot watch something in the privacy of their own home on pay-per-view because mccain- feingold banned it. do you really want to ban movies? the answer is perhaps yes, which is why i did not want to reverse citizens united. the second issue that came out of the decision is that all new avenues of disclosure -- i am not sure where this comes from, the reality is the court has
upheld some disclosure, has struck other disclosure. the kaine- -- mccain-feingold were upheld in the mcconnell case, and what they out was a one-page disclosure regime for television and radio ads and movies that air on television, run within a well-defined parks ability to federal election that referenced a candidate. this does not give license to all sorts of other expensive disclosure machines or call from barclay, which limited the reach of disclosure. scored struck disclosure in the davis case in which most had written off on a millionaires' kids, but if you read the language of davis, you could not
have free-floating disclosure --istine's of the sort regimes of the sort they are now proposing. lost in the shuffle are cases such as an double acc p -- n aacp, so there is a president on the less disclosure side of the aisle. there must be some seismic shift. i did it is too early to say there is all sorts of new avenues for disclosure. there are a number of proposals. that is close at -- the disclose act. it was quite unwieldy. senators have introduced the
bill, but have said language brown as another way to fix the problem, and there is another statute that a been variously introduced that have floated different proposals. the central problem with all of these aside from the merits is at least today they are not going to pass. the question is what is realistic? what i am hearing is a number of incumbents making noise, and tough, about all these negative adds. folks run for office, adding the constitution, and after a few cycles of expressing advocacy that they do not think are fair, they say we need to figure out who is behind these ads.
there's a natural tendency of incumbents and and you hear republicans in the senate and house that a boy is that we need more disclosure. it is not enough where we reached a critical mass, but mccain-feingold took years and years to pass. this is more of a long-term discussion. incumbency does funny things to people who are otherwise would not be insisting on disclosure. once they become part of the government, criticism comes too close to home. the second reason why i think these proposals to not work as they come the problem from the appreciatele, fail to the impact of other cases have had on how we conduct elections. before one fixes a problem,
there has to be agreement on what the problem is. went incumbent politicians talk about the need to know who is behind all these shadowy ads, voters have information cannot that rings hollow. there's a bit of disclosure already. it is a disclaimer as to who pays for it. they tend to file communication reports or expenditure reports with commission. states have laws on this as well. sometimes they disclose donors, sometimes they do not. if someone gives money, that is to be spent on an election- related ad, their identity is disclosed. the reformers will say but no one will earmark it that way. then there are the super pacs, who do disclose.
a number of people talk about pacs, and super they need to disclose. some have conceded disclosure is designed to kill speech. senator schumer is characterized as already poisoning the well. third, speech that is critical of incumbents, it seems the incumbents are wanting to know who is behind the ad. the rally is there is a huge mass of disclosure. i cannot imagine voters sifting through the stock because it is too much as it is. finally none of these proposals ever talk about anonymous speech.
they make give lip service to it, but what is true is there has never been a serious discussion about a bailout. what kind of showing does one have to make to not have to disclose, even under court law? the fec has opinions were they have to disclose, because they have already been able to make a showing. is it economic harm? the government has never said what one has to do, and when you go to the government of law it is an interesting circle you are and where you have to say who you are to say you are not who you are. another thing that distorts the process, and when i hear politicians say this and it seems we're self-serving incumbent protection.
the reality is you did have corporation money include elections. there were at issue adds that said call so and so and tell them to keep fighting for us. you still had corporations and unions been the a tremendous amount of money that were not counted as campaign ads. it varies in graphs with its outside spending have has gone up considerably. it is not clear to me that spending in general to affect public policy in the elections and the line between the two burs is all that different. the other part of a problem,
what is corruption? a lot of us did not get a correction rationale. it does it something that citizens united hopefully blew out entirely, the equal speech rationale, which permeates so much of the federal election loaw. there is still a kernel of truth in definitions of the problem. the cause of the problem is in many ways that reform laws that have caused the problem. the candidate's voice is getting lost in the elections. as one who comes from the world i come from, that is not a constitutional justification, but the reality is of voters need to vote for candidates, and when they go into the polling place, they need to be making a choice between two people and what they represent in the broad scope, not on a single issue or
what they saw on television, or what the nightly news tells them. i think the central goal should be 1/2 the candidate's voice be the central voice, but one of the real effects of that regime candidates'at's -- voices are being drowned out. the culture has been changed, shifting power away from party , single-issue groups, and those who are able to go on tv or telephones or male or direct contact to influence the views, which brings me to the third change, how lobbying will be conducted. the money guys and the access
guys are always want to be around in some form, but now you will have third way which will be easier to influence an paided official's vote by advertising or other sorts of things that i think have been legal for a long time, but were cloudy before quest because of various regulations that congress has passed. it has rejected the equal speech argument. where do we go from here? can there be legislation? most of us have said no. i'm not so sure, because there are people who should not be saying things that are seeing things did senator mcconnell has staked out his position. he is the minority senate leader. i think in the short term that will hold true, but the long
term, where do we go? the cane- -- mccain-feingold needs to be revisited. post citizens united, half of that has been lopped off, and you're left with restrictions on the party committees. it will hurt party committees, which has been a stabilizing force in democracy four years and years and years, and at the state and local level. those who say parties continue to raise the same amount of money or more money than erased before the cane- -- mccain- feingold -- the cost of tv ads has gone up because it is how it happens. advertising costs of up, but
also because folks to make more money by doing sigel-issue groups, it is harder for the party groups because of competition. it's become much more expensive. the theme of any legislation has the book is more on restaurants. the idea of let's undo the soft- an will not get traction, but looking at state and local parties be something that we can get agreement on. the way i explain it to people who are not immersed, anything a party committee would want to do near an election is subject to the prohibitions, and even if they do not care about their local member who will not lose the matter how hard the other team tries.
for state and local candidates, mccain-feingold has caused a problem with parties. coordination roles that the fec promulgated has reached out and does not accurately reflect realities. it is not corrupting, but the court nation rules and all sorts of really are not tied to corruption or to the appearance. the contribution limits, if they indexed for inflation, they would be significantly higher, but fairly the party committees. there is a limit on an individual can give. there is a number of other party issues that i think there could be agreement on in a bipartisan fashion, and the question of which comes first?
the reality is, way campaigns did mail, in a warehouse, they do not do it because it is efficient, but because there is no spending limit. when you compare that activity to what is going on. there is disclosure that could be cleaned up. fec hazmat de hash over-- the fec has made a hash over things, and they have taken a test at the supreme court and put it on the independent expenditure reporting pershing. what you have is a catch-22, not sure what report the fire. hillary the movie was the
functional equivalent of an express advocacy, but if you would apply hal teh fec looks at the region, it is not clear that would be an independent expenditure. these are two completely different reporting regimes. if you are trying to figure this out and have 48 hours to file one of these i would see more of the vacation on that point. with that, i will sit down and we will have some questions and can continue our discussion. [applause] >> thank you. now, john samples from the cato institute. them every time i followed mary i remind the i am not mick jagger. you may wonder what that means. if you know that one time mick jagger had to pollack tina
turner onstage, and only he could have done it. google it.- i want to integrate some responses, but i had some other things i wanted to talk about. i would want to say something about where we go from here. from a liberty point of view now?re we right there has been for a least since about 1995 and because of senator mcconnell, a strategy of just saying no to campaign finance regulation, restrictions. that has worked remarkably well. it is true mccain-feingold passed, but it resulted in is a
soft money banned pit it has had a remarkable effect, but we have to ask, why is it that just say no had a remarkable effect? part of a is is that it fits pretty well with the first amendment. it has embodied the notion of just saying no to congress and saying consistently across the board, that is our position. it has been successful, as i mentioned earlier in my comments. giving in a little bit of leaves to a set of problems. what i want to ask is, is that the future? is that the way to go? what remains to be done? what kind of restrictions are there still on speech? i want to start with incremental things that will be discussed and tried to integrate things about larry's comments and then
go to non-incremental outcomes before finishing. let's start with the incremental. prohibition should be of the greatest concern to people concerned about freedom of speech or liberty in general. what provisions are there on financing political activity? in terms of prohibitions, the one that sticks out is the prohibition on foreign nationals being involved. the decision has been made here. we can go on about that. you can actually argue about it. probably not as solid as most, but i do not see the point. arguing for a foreign national participation is an idea that is so heavily weighted with negativity that there is nothing worth the cost of bringing that about. i think that will probably be not at the center of concern, at least in the near future. in terms of restraint,
contribution limits within the system are going to continue. heaven and earth was moved in mccain-feingold, part of a big deal to get contributions raised inside the system, contributions raised to a point where there were still below the inflation rate of 1974 so we still have not recovered the real value of them. if you want to go outside contribution limits, there is likely to be vehicles, organizations, and the ability to do so will be guaranteed after citizens united. do you want to go down this stage, put a lot of effort in trying to get rid of contribution efforts when they can be, if you want to get more than that, there is a possibility. if not, giving directly to candidates of parties. there was the coordination limits network -- that was mentioned earlier today. there is a good chance of that
falling, but it has not fallen yet. they may loosen those limits. that will be something that we can focus on and mention a few are concerned about these issues. i do think there is an issue that was not raised earlier today in talking about parties. libertarianism is particularly sensitive, even if they're not associated with a party. the sense that the parties have a central, controlling role and they do not like outside forces. there for enhancing the party rules and the party role is something that has downside, too. i suspect the answer is the people who are outside the system, i do not know this but i suspect it is the case, that if the rules of the game were different, that much of the money that would go to outside groups would go to parties.
the soft money era found its way to the party. i would not suspected to be so. in that sense, the libertarians should reject it. you are not preventing an outside source from having a role. there is some demand for that, but not a great deal. that brings us to public financing. that is what professor lessig reads us in the current system. his a guide -- his indictment, what i would say about it, a lot of the assertions that exist are probably quite weak. it is not conclusive literature. i want to mention that. still, the idea that it weakens trust in the congress, the perception of corruption weakens trust in congress, weakens
participation. there are a host of other variables and causes that have been explored and shown to have stronger effects. that leads to non-voting or the poor perception of congress. the studies of congress have shown that you can explain the poor perception of congress by looking at the economy and the fact that most americans do not like conflict, confrontation, fighting with one another, all the stuff that goes on in democracy and compromise has a big effect in driving down congressional approval ratings. another empirical issue that i know something about was the medicare. the money argument has been it is a single variable, a single explanation of all the things that go on in the world. the doc fix, why did it happen? the refusal to cut provider
payments in the medicare system. you have contributions and so on. in the 1997 period, when there was a cut in providers, they always go after provider's first. what went into effect and what happened? people stopped providing medicare to the recipients of medicare. that is politically active people over 65. they went directly to their representatives and, sure enough, you ended up with a dco fix, which i suspect is fixed only with a fiscal cliff. there is another explanation. it always does not have to be a small group of people controlling everything. which leads me to my next question before i get back to public financing. understandingsig's of corruption is dependent on the phrase by james madison that
any kind of motor or effort that is driven by anything other than the people along, and a general understanding of what the republic was in federalist 10. it talks about how complicated the problem of who the people are and what they do and how you have a system that is a stable and -- lasting republic. the concern, as you may recall is that medicine is concerned with factions. he is concerned with minority factions and majority factions. he is particularly concerned with majority factions and the effect they would have on the rights of the minority and the permanent interest of the community. as far as i know, if you look at the first amendment, it does not say that congress shall not abridge freedom of speech unless they're talking about a small
number of people in the primaries. in fact, people have the right to do that. that is part of the federalist no. 10 idea, that people have the right to fund a candidates to make their case. i contend that the notion of the people alone is an ambiguous idea. it is a horrible strategy because everybody knows what the people want. the only problem is, everyone has a different perception of what they wanted in their own head, they know what the people would do and the things that happen are different. therefore, we have corruption. the federalist no. 10 is more complicated than that. if you are trying to have a system in which people -- now, professor lessig's response would be that the primaries are controlled by a small number of funders. if that is true and these people are individuals, why is
it the case that during the big money era, 1996 and after, both parties have become much more physiologically sorted. the democrats have become much more liberal. republicans controlled by their small number of contributors in the primaries. the democratic party is much more to the left than it was in 1996 or even 2000. during this period, how does that square with a bunch of rich people control everything? it does not square very well. the answer is, despite the fact that private money is about to destroy us, their answer is not getting rid of it, at least not in the first instance, in part because it is unconstitutional. the answer is public financing, a voucher system.
the problem with public financing is, from a libertarian or liberty perspective it is, you're going to have to coerce people to give up tax money to spend on public financing. you have to ask yourself, where does the coercion come in and why does it? most public financing campaigns are not like that. it was very unpopular with most people. the problem of public financing, even if i were to agree with it or be open to it, is that people do not want it. that is one of the incumbent concerns, another reason why you do not have it. the other problem is what might be called a slippery slope argument. the idea is to get public financing, public financing will then have great advantages or
turn out to be a great idea. at the end of the day, without banning private financing, you can crowd it out. whether people or to give money now cannot give because of public financing and so on. the idea is to set up a system so that, without forcing people, i am not going to distort what he is saying, he is not saying to ban public financing or make it illegal, but it is interesting to me that the central ethics endorsed the notion from a central campaign that the candidate they take financing from, and they pledge, legally they may be required to, to take only public funds. if you could get everyone to take only public funds, then you have gotten rid of public financing. -- private financing. the private financing act is a
real constraint on government, at least potentially so. it also can expand government. we have to be honest about these things. some of it, in some measure, without getting out of hand about this, some of it is caused by, mediated by campaign contributions. however, if you have an all voluntary system, including money coming from people voluntarily, you have the problem that this might be an attempt to crowd out or eliminate public financing. private financing, you want people to run campaigns on the government. you want them to be able to constrain the government. that is why it is important. other things can be said. many things can be said about what central ethics said.
public financing does strike me as, depending on how it is done, if it is done on a voluntary basis, it is certainly much less objectionable to a system in which you have restrictions and prohibitions, like we have had for about 30-40 years. tax credits also, we probably want to talk about it. they have some of the same issues. i want to talk about disclosure real quickly. disclosure is going to be what most people are talking about for the next couple of years. we have it discloses a system -- a disclosure system for many years in the united states. consider this. once you are outside the system and, according to citizens
united, you are outside the sphere of corruption as a legal matter. that means disclosure, which has been approved by the supreme court, has basically 2 justifications. one was to prevent corruption. if you are outside that kind of rationale, the rationale for disclosing these kinds of post- citizens united spending is gone. the other is that disclosure helps voters, informs them, educates them, helps them cast votes more sensibly and more in accord with their own concerns. it does this by telling people they are supposed to look around and see how people they know contributed. that could be their neighbors. it could also be nationally renowned figures, endorsements. it is this cue taking that it
helps voters and gives them more information. this is the political science idea. political science has shown, maybe it is the only thing that political science has shown. voters, for the most part, do not have very much information at all about candidates, elections, and politics. they need a great deal of information. one of the things going on is a collection -- a collective action problem. somebody has to pay for informing voters. i would come back to the public financing issue, which is it is pretty clear that citizens do not want to, which could be seen as a problem. it is also a long-term fact. disclosure -- my point being, about the information, disclosure of corporate heads
and these people, voters most in need of some sort of disclosure are not going to have information about these people. they will not have any useful information of -- out of most of the things that are forced to be disclosed about citizens united. they are not going to get any good -- they may or may not know who the rep is. how are they going to know what it means for some individuals name or job or whatever is going to give them information? what we need to do is come up with better alternatives. at this point, the just say no strategy has been one of saying no. i have illustrated why i think it has been fantastically successful. with disclosure, we need to think about alternatives to disclosure, which has also the effect, probably, of tilling
some speech, which is a first amendment value. could we have a plan of disclosure that neither chills speech and informs voters better? if you have these two things, it is something that would not be particularly problematic from a liberty point of view. from a general point of view, a win-win situation. this is the idea that bruce has about semi-disclosure. that advertisements of the independent source would be identified not in relation to people but in a chord with the interest that is involved. in the end, the kind of information that you would get from people, voters want the intermission and assess the information according to the kind of interest. they are worried about unrest
affecting the truth or falsity. that kind of argument has a constitutional status in the supreme court doctrine. that is why it semi-disclosure would answer that. it would give better information and since the individuals would remain not disclosed directly to the voter, the chill would presumably be lessened. it is also true, there would be a lot of disclosure about individuals in the pages of the new york times and elsewhere as we have seen. still, the official system would not be that way. it seems to be something we can be behind on the liberty site and something that would point us toward other alternatives. i want to close with this -- i guess i am naturally pessimistic because i started by saying what a great success all of this have
been. i have come to think that a possibility of citizens united and speech now is directly linked to citizens united. if citizens united were overturned, it is likely that speech now would go quickly thereafter. i have come to think that it is more likely that it might be overturned. it will not be through constitutional amendment or a bill, it would be done by one of the five members of the majority leaving the court. let's leave it at that. what would happen thereafter is president obama would insist that whoever he nominated, among other things, one of his priorities would be a person who would overturn citizens united. you would have a big fight and
you could end up with a five- person majority. for a while, it would not matter much because ultimately, you still have to pass a law through congress. but you do not. the vermont legislature could sam -- could simply passed a state law and that could go to the supreme court pretty quickly and get citizens united overturned. to have some kind of actionable federal effect, it would have to go through congress. there would have to be a lot to reinstate the status quo pre- citizens united. that might be very hard to do. but it is possible. what i'm saying is that there is risk. i think the risk is probably greater than people think about citizens united. it is not yet stable. it is unfortunate that there is a -- not a great deal of evidence that we have won the battle of public opinion.
citizens united is not a popular decision. i would be concerned about that. in that sense, i would think that it would make sense to begin to look for possibilities of the settlement that incorporates particularly speech now but also citizens united. perhaps better alternatives on disclosure and other things. a settlement in which we can all agree to find some basis going forward. in part, because, in the end, we waste a lot of time and it poisons the well of our discourse. with that, i am over my time and i shall sit down. thank you very much. [applause] >> thanks. when john asked me to moderate, he also invited me to step out of the world of moderator for a
couple of minutes to make some comments. so i will do so and i will be very brief. it turns out that a fair amount of what i wanted to say, john has already said. the morning has been framed by two questions. one is, what did change with citizens united or the cluster of events that we label as citizens united? the other is, what should change next? first, what has changed? something has changed, in fact. previous vehicles have spoken to that, presented different perspectives. in law, we have heard and both bob bauer and the panel and
france smith noted that it was a culmination of a long series of developments which ultimately lead to a point to use a phrase that we have used at the campaign finance institute and other publications to a point where you can see limits on what accomplished. it does not mean citizens united has done away with what one could possibly accomplished through limits. that is to say i do believe that contribution limits do relate to and prevent plenty of examples of the extortion and actual corruption in that direction. both contributions to parties and candidates. but limits or restrictions do
not and cannot alter the fundamental dependency issues. or promote greater equality and participation, which i would be very frank in talking about. more -- nor do i think it appropriate to promote equality for restrictions, but i do think it is appropriate to promote it. when i shift to what should change, when you focus everything around citizens united, what you are focusing the discussion on is on what is present in the system. instead, i think professor lessig's remarks, and the campaign finance institute has talked about it in its research, they have focused on what is absent. you cannot have an effect on what is absent by restricting
what is present. rather, you get that by focusing on matters that would build up rather than squeeze out. will that happen? will that approach be part of the public's action agenda? it has already become part of the conversation agenda, an important part of the public agenda. people who are identified with the reform community are very different from those six years ago. these will be talked about. talking is the prelude to action. do i think there will be action in the next two-four years? no. pass a bill at the federal, not directly, but these are at the state level. it is on the conversation agenda and the research agenda. is it appropriate to look at a
possible use of tax money if the money is steered through donor actions? we could debate that. i would argue yes. there is no way that such an agenda can or would crowd out independent spending. that i do not think is an issue. that is the way i would frame the discussion. it is a conversation-changer as well as a conversation-starters. let me tell you what we will do for questions and answers. there are microphones. please wait for the microphones. announce yourself, direct your questions to one of the three speakers or all. where is the microphone now? we can start. the microphone is already situated in the middle ear.
put your hand up if you would like the microphone. you may choose where you will go. we have some people to have not asked yet. we have one here, one there. >> my name is david. i could describe myself as a democratic political operative. i would like to direct my question to mr. samples and take issue with your contention that public financing is not popular. i would point to the voters in maine and arizona, the ballot of public financing laws. the people who do not like public financing are many incumbent politicians. i am from massachusetts. in 1996, people in massachusetts overwhelmingly approved public financing only to have the law repealed in the
legislature. my question to you is, what is your basis for concluding that people do not want public financing? >> i agree with you about the incumbents. that is part of the problem. the problem to overcome if the work problem. seeing that incumbents are able to deal with it as they do, there is not an overwhelming urge for it. the reason is in my book that i wrote. i looked at polling going back to 1938. one thing i did notice is the general trend. while campaign finance reform generally gets a 60-40 majority from people, for a long time, with the exception of 1973-1979, you have anywhere from 65 to 60 against public financing. the campaign institute did
extensive polling where they would talk about it. mike would say they probably got a different result. in general, i think that people do not see it that way. i think the incumbent resistance is not surprising, but, at the same time -- i would add one thing. the next 10 years, the discretionary spending at the federal level will come under heavy pressure, precisely because of the polling data. >> the question was also directed to professor lessig. >> one of the most troubling things about the polls, a confounding factor about americans, which is, there was a poll last summer that 80% of americans believe that every campaign finance change has been
designed with the purpose of protecting incumbents. when you say congress has an idea and the idea is public financing, when the public says they do not like it, is that because of the attitude 80% of us have or is there something particular poll? depending on how things are framed, you can get the answer you want and i want, which is a very strong support for public funding. everybody knows this but nobody says it. why do we trust what the polls say? it is a terrible way of understanding what americans would agree about. if we had a deliberative poll, where people had the chance to understand the issues and were given the information, what would they say?
i would bet one month's salary that people would say they supported change that would remove the corrupting influence inside politics. fortunately, nobody took me up on that that. -- bet. [laughter] >> this gentleman had a hand up for a while. >> thank you. you talked a bit about the papers. madison did not disclose he wrote them at that time. is that a bad idea? >> there are a couple of different forms of that. mandated disclosure, you would probably have a nominated the -- probably would be anonymous.
there is a proposal that instead of trying to have restrictions, you have forced anonymity of donors. my problem there is i think it is interesting, but i do not think you can sustain that kind of anonymity. a student of congress made this argument. i think that is probably correct. anonymous speech has its role to play. it is certainly true and it is primarily because of the chill. chilling disclosure can lead to a nonentity -- an entity -- anonymity. it is hard to measure that and see how that generally happens. comes from the situation itself. which is that, if you are giving
money to get someone out of office, and if you are giving large sums of it, remember you are attacking or trying to get out of office, they may not seek retribution against you, but that does not mean you have to believe that going in. people might not fund kinds. it is also true there is a lot of funding where people find when hundreds of millions of dollars. in those situations, i think an amenity is good -- anonymously is good. being anonymous and at the same time helping voters. a lot is about trying to
control the other side's contributions. if you believe that, my proposal will not work. but i think my proposal for an ominous and yet informative disclosure beats all the problems we have talked about. >> start here and go back there. >> the world you have described where there are special interests that thrive on good luck and where we have the dependents who have created their own self perpetuating dependency, what do you see, assuming there is nothing on the horizon to change the course we are on, what you see that is down the road. what is the worst possible imaginable outcome you see?
>> well, it is a very, very, very dark story. there is not a single important. -- important issue we face that we will get a sensible answer on, except for the ones that get exploded. for example, there might be something around guns that gets pushed because of the tragedy. the republican party might think it is about to be extinct if it does not deal with immigration. those issues get pushed in a political way to get resolved. inconsistent from the theory. but climate change, tax policy, a health care system that is actually efficient and rational, financial reform, none of these issues -- internet policy -- none of these issues can be
addressed in a rational and sensible -- sensible way. i do not mean liberal only. i am talking about conservative issues, too. so my book is a dark story about this. i think we have to confront the fact that we have lost the capacity to govern in some important way. it is on top of a constitutional scheme that is already set up to facilitate a lot of checks on the government doing anything. separation of power is much harder to govern with already. lay this on top of it and you make it not governable. one small quibble something -- with something john said. the dependency line i 0.2 is dependency on the people alone.
this is not because madison thought there was an interesting way people wanted. that is insanely difficult. what he is talking about is the dependency. the government is to avoid the wrong dependencies. we want an executive that cannot by congress, so we have all sorts of separation to make sure the right dependencies to congress exist. they were obsessed with dependency the way with jane austen was, and the dependency reduces the independent that is so important. the part that is optimistic and i want to emphasize this point, john and i have been on a number of channels. enormous respect. he is unique in recognizing the
way the debate has moved. what michael has been doing for ever, and what some of us have been trying to insist on is the old debate. whether people were saying, stop talking, we want to silence you. that is not the debate today. it is about what the alternative ways of funding might reduce the kind of pressure we think exists in the system. systems are just another way of funding that makes it so the kind of dependency i am talking about is easier. >> i want to have a brief comment. we are supposed to fight. but this is a more positive comment. i remember sitting in a house administration committee and i was testifying about the act,
which i had studied since 2005, and the way of larry had become involved. i came in at the end of the story. i would sit there and listen and think, wow, he has had a big effect on these people and it has been very positive because it has taken out most of the restrictions. he had brought something like, he would give people $1.50 million. i was thinking, this would never pass because the members do not want it and republicans will not be behind it. but i did think larry had a positive effect, definitely. we will fight later, if you want. >> one more. this gentleman's hand is up. >> i want to say i think the idea of not personally identifying disclosure does have interesting opportunities
to do so -- to solve some of the disclosure issues. getting back to the public financing issue, i agree it will not happen on the federal level. the state incubators, we could see proposals going on in the states. my question is what do you do about the issue of independent expenditures in a public financing environment? everybody agrees you cannot just than independent expenditures if they are interested -- if in fact they are truly independent. what do you do about them in that kind of circumstance? and is there something on the regulatory basis to redefine independent expenditures in a way where they are more truly independent as opposed to link to the candidates speaking? ?> who is this directed at as >> professor lessig, but to
anyone who wants to tackle coronation. >> i think people have read too much into the court's decision. the reason i think that is related to the question roger asked in the first panel. people in this field i think the world of corruption as far as the court thinks about his distinguished between quid pro quo corruption and this equality corruption. in that world, there is no corruption. what i have tried to suggest, and there was a brief that pushed this idea, is that there is another conception of corruption that is much more attuned to what the framers cared about. this dependency corruption. while i do not think there is a constitutional way to stop the coke brothers from writing a check for $10 million and spending it on a particular ad,
i do think it is moved too quickly in that independent cannot possibly be regulated under this conception of dependency corruption. the reason that is true is because a dependency corruption does not reverse citizens united. i agree with the results of citizens united. they should have upheld the right of the non-profit filmmaker to spend the money to promote their films. if the first amendment means anything, it has to mean that. that is a separate question of whether it extends to every kind of structure. the broader perspective of what corruption is not distinct conception of what corruption gives you for thinking about that. those -- there is legislation that will specifically build on that. let me add one more footnote about your anonymous donation point.
bruce sets out a voucher system and really sets out a scheme for facilitating anonymous donations. it is a really brilliant scheme. florida tried it for judges. judicial races, the only way to give money to the campaign was to do it anonymously. nobody gave any money. once it was anonymous, all costs -- contributions dried up. even though i agree with an analytic point, this does solve a problem, but we are still left with a problem. how do you fund a campaign? all you have this $300 million. >> to me, the argument against public financing that resonates the most to me is, what about independent expenditures?
constitutionally, you have to reverse buckley to start looking back in. there have been campaigns that , but a lot of it ends up being feeder more than something that really has any effect. i come at it from an entirely different place. i said this in my comments that money is a tool. it is not the end game. just because you raise more money than the other guy, does not mean you will win. if you look at different parts of the country, they are more expensive than others. i grabbed the numbers on my way here. to put it in terms, tv advertising is done in points. buying so many points will get you a certain amount of tv time for an ad.
you of about a thousand points of television and they sell tv in points. in iowa, $85 a point. it is one of a cheaper market -- one of the cheaper markets now. florida was $536 a point in august and october, 1000 $125,000 a point. washington d.c., $2,777 in october. that is close to $3 million for a week of broadcasts. public financing, how can you really seriously expect candidates to compete with that kind of money? maybe a hybrid system, i do not know. it seems to be somewhat
unrealistic to think a system where there is a taxpayer about for an agreement that a party can be more coordinated so long as they are only campaigns that have public financing. i do not know where you go. the reality is the first amendment means what it says. it does not matter who is on the supreme court. one thing was offered by justice brennan. it does not matter so much at the core. where the line between that and campaigns are has always been fuzzy. the coordination will and what is truly independent, that is something i hear the reform industry use. the value and whether it is truly or totally independent. it is like saying, very unique. it is either unique or it is not.
i think the idea of getting into this idea of reversing the burden and make people prove something that is totally independent turns the industry on its head. the court has spoken quite strongly about how even investigating folks can chill speech. a big theme in citizens united was how they took the sec to task -- fcc to task. i quoted the first panel. when you decide to get into this, let's try to have somebody who speaks with total independence her, it is out of bounds. the risk is great because, what if in agencies like fcc, they try to ramp up investigations? what if we guess wrong?
in this weird situation, you can regulate court's speech but not independence speech. but you are essentially regulating it. i do not see how you can correct the problem on independent expenditures. it is a reality that faces us carry the cost of running campaigns faces us. something i was going to talk about but ran out of time was the role of the media. this is something the justice has talked about quite a bit. some of us put in an opinion long before citizens united, a case involving george soros. he had a book saying that things about president bush. they wanted to sue him. it was the three republicans who voted against him. it seems to me that was an attendant speech, not the sort of thing the law covered.
re isoint i am making thei that one of the reasons we said we would not see him it is no more different than the media. when i was in private practice, i would deal with tv stations about tv advertising. they would like to say truth police and say your ad is not accurate. i would ask a simple question ended put them on their heels. how much time as a local news spend on your election? generally the answer is zero. there are not a lot of ways to get people to get their voice heard, unless they do it themselves through independent speech. the court recognizes that. if anyone has ideas how to get there that is constitutional, we are all yours -- ears. >> so i took your question to
have two parts. you have an answer to the legal part. the two different answers. but i thought there was a practical question. i will step out of the role of moderator to give a short answer. then i will turn the microphone back to john to close out. i think on the legal side compaq, the phenomenon -- side, the phenomenon raises a very serious questions about whether a contribution limits public -- limits. the question about any kind of public financing system is, if it will work, candidates have to step into it voluntarily. they will not step into it if you do enact it on lascar supply -- it unless they can
think about it. most of the proposals on the table now involves no spending limits. second, they involve means through which candidates are given incentives to develop alternative methods for fund raising so they can keep going. especially if you develop a small donor list, you can raise money quickly toward the end of a campaign. just to give you a number on this, not only were 80% of president obama's donors small donors, but 70% of disclose donors started off as small daughters. at the end, they gave five times during the course of the cycle on average. these ideas are addressed in political terms in most of the bills that people are talking
about now. in a way they were not in earlier proposals. i put that on the table for conversation later over lunch. to get us to that point, i want to give the microphone to john. >> thank you. and you for a great job. i would like to thank everyone for coming today. i would like to think ever c- span audience for joining. a little bit late, we will go upstairs now. go up and you will find some of the books we have talked about today and a lunch being served. i would like to thank everyone on this panel, including mike as moderator and everyone who has been here today. thank you very much. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013]
>> i think the women themselves, in many cases, were interested in politics but net -- but had no vehicle to express that in their own lives. they were attracted to men who were going to become politically active for, who were already -- already.or who were f >> they were so obscure historical half of these women -- historically. half of these women -- >> tonight, c-span premieres its new series. with historians, chiefs of staff, social secretaries, exporting the lives -- exploring the lives of women who become first ladies.
season one begins tonight at 9:00 eastern, on c-span, c-span radio, and c-span.org. >> in his state of the union address, president obama proposed raising the minimum wage. we will look at how that would affect the economy. for more about the president's economic proposals, jennifer at the center for american progress. we will take precedence on the president's proposal -- questions on the present's proposal. jefferson keel joins us. live every day on c-span at 7:00 a.m. eastern. live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-
span tomorrow, a look at the role of the business community in higher education. that is from the u.s. chamber of commerce in washington. among the speakers, the educational secretary in george w. bush's second term. > host: we take a look at how your taxpayer dollars are being spent. on this presidents day, we will focus on presidents and what sort of benefits they get after they leave office. let's begin with a history. when did taxpayers start paying for these benefits for presidents after they leave office? guest: the act was enacted in 1958. the idea occurred around 1912. andrew carnegie decided he wanted to use his foundation to pay about $25,000 a year in pensions to former presidents.
the first former president that would have been able to use that $25,000 happened to be his friend taft. taft did not need the money. he was a professor at yale. he became the supreme court justice. he had to walk a delicate balance of telling his friend thanks but no thanks and decided not to accept it. andrew carnegie and never articulated why he wanted to pay the pension. members of congress thought it might be a kick to say maybe this is something we should do. maybe there needs to be a pension for the highest office in the land. a couple of bills were introduced in 1912 but nothing was enacted into law. it was not until the 1950's when harry truman was having financial difficulties and writing members to congress.
sam raburn received a letter from truman that said, please pass this bill to help me keep ahead of the hounds. the bill was enacted in 1958. after that, presidents started receiving a series of benefits. host: what sort of benefits did they get? guest: they get benefits that include a pension, payment for federal staff. their staff gets health and pension benefits. they get other benefits including office space, postage, printing. a handful are in the act itself. there are separate authorizations were they get additional benefits. some might consider their secret service protection and benefit. that is provided in a different part of the code. there are other and benefits
like transition benefits that kick in about a month before they leave office and last for six months to help the transition between administrations. host: how has the law changed? guest: the tweak was in 2013. one of the big changes was the secret service protection. in 1994, secret service protection was going to be limited to 10 years for former presidents and their spouses. the first president that would have affected would have been george w. bush. the bill was amended to give a lifetime secret service protection. host: what was the debate? guest: there was not much debate. it was passed by unanimous consent. perhaps there was concern
president bush might need secret service protection in perpetuity. it was renewed in 1994. in the 1980's, there was debate saying former presidents should be able to pay for their own secret service protection. president nixon's body guards said former presidents should be able to pay us. apparently, that was rescinded a few days ago. host: how much protection do they get? does it extend to their wives and families? guest: we do not know much about the details. that is protected. we do know is provided to the former president and his wife in perpetuity. children under 16 receive it until they are 16. former presidents are not provided directly by statute.
homeland security and secret service can decide to provide protection at any time based on threats. i just called them and asked if they could tell me how many people are assigned to each person in the cost. that is all kept secret. i am sure somebody knows, but it is not made public about how many secret service are assigned to them. host: how much does each former president get for a pension? how has that changed? guest: the pension has always been connected to executive level pay provided to cabinet officials. that is currently at $199,700. it was rounded up to $200,000 when they provided the data. they have been giving that amount of time thinking they're still high cabinet officials. they are not still elected officials. it was believed by congress they were still entitled to that level of pay. host: there been efforts to make it higher or tap it?
guest: there was an effort last year in congress that was introduced to the years ago. it would have removed the tide to executive level pay and set it at $200,000. it would have removed the other benefits provided and just given a block of $200,000, an additional $200,000 to the former president. for every dollar of the former president earned in excess of $400,000, $1 would have been removed from the second block of $200,000. host: what about presidential allowances? george w. bush got $1.3 million. bill clinton got $978,000. what is the presidential allowance?
why does george bush have $1.3 million and the others have descending amounts? guest: there has been a change in the way the presidential announced breaks out. we are including all benefits in that. historically, the pension has been the big ticket price in the costs associated with former presidents. that was tied to executive level one pay. more recent presidents have
seen the change because of the space costs have gone up extravagantly. president clinton's highest cost is his office space. george w. bush had a higher personal compensation in 2012. in the 30 months after you leave office, after six months, you get $150,000 for your personal stuff to help ease into your post-presidential life. that explains the appropriation levels in comparison. it appears presidents who have been out longer cost less than presidents who have more closely been ex-presidents. host: why do they need an office. you noted that is clinton's most expensive tab. why do they get it? guest: this dates back to harry truman and his concerns. he was telling members of
congress they needed to pass this law. he was receiving hundreds of letters a day, hundreds of requests for him to do speeches. he had to respond to these requests. that was part of his duties. this was an informal duty brought on by his holding this office. he thought he needed office space, staff, and a way to respond to these requests. the office space was put in for that purpose. host: why do we pay for former presidents' trouble? guest: congress decided they have trouble duties associated with the informal position. they are afforded up to $1 million for travel and protection expenses. the travel expenses have never reached that high. host: bill clinton travels all
over the world for his global foundation. his travel expenses for 2012, is he picking up the tab when he travels for his foundation? guest: we're not paying for all of their travel and staff. we are paying $96,000 for staff. he can delegate that however he sees fit. he is capped at that. anything above that would be paid by the former president himself. host: patty is a democratic caller. caller: my dad is retired and gets a pension. he has to take the pay taxes on the pension. do former presidents have to pay taxes on the pensions? guest: as far as i know they do. they only receive health benefits if they served five or
more years of federal service. jimmy carter is ineligible because he only served four years in federal office. george h. w. bush only serve one term as president but many years of federal service with the cia and as u.n. ambassador. he decided not to take the health benefits. he does not receive those. you can decline and that any time. bill clinton and george w. bush both receive health benefits. host: what kind of health care are they getting? guest: they are receiving the same health benefits and the federal pensioner would get in federal service. host: the same that members of congress get.
what does that include? is that better than medicare? guest: i think it is exactly the same. i do not think it is better than medicare. it is what every federal employee uses. i am a federal employee. i enjoy my health benefits. i am assuming they are about the same. host: margaret from tennessee, independent caller. caller: they also extend the secret service powers under mr. cheney. the reason they have done this is because i think both men are cowards. they think they have to have protection. i cannot believe they would not give you an amount when you called the government and asked how much this cost. why is that a secret? guest: the department of homeland security and the secret service can extend protection to former presidents
whenever they think there is a threat or it is appropriate. they would not release those details because they think it could hurt their protection capacity. if you release the dollar amount, they figured you could determine what they might be using to protect the person. they think that may reach some confidence in their ability to provide protection. host: this is from twitter. any provision that says if you are making a good living you do not need this money? guest: i think that is what the bill in the last congress was trying to speak to. there has historically been a consensus in congress that this is a really high position. after you serve, you deserve some recognition and a pension. if you are wealthy, you may not need the extra money to run your offices. the counter argument says just because you are wealthy does not
mean your services valued less. do you want to make it so that only people who come from less wealthy background receive these benefits? it could say the service you have provided to the country is different depending on the ground came from. host: robert is the democratic column. caller: can you explain how much is spent on the libraries for the former presidents? guest: presidential libraries are under the presidential libraries act. i do not have the numbers in front of me for what they pay each year. the construction and getting the land are paid for by the library foundations.
the library foundations deed or provide that land and building to the federal government. that is all paid by the foundation. that is private money. the library foundations are required to provide an endowment. the george w. bush library is about to open in a few months. they are required to pay an additional 60% of the cost to acquire the land and construct the building in endowment funds. the libraries are run by the national archive and records administration. they largely controlled the archiving and record-keeping. the president of the library is a federal employee. there are costs associated with running them. this endowment is meant to defray those costs for the federal government.
host: is this considered a benefit? guest: it is not a benefit pursuant to the former presidents act. it could be considered a benefit in some people's minds. it could be seen as a benefit to the country. you can go and learn more about the legacy and experience their hometown. you get to go to the home town of the president and soak in where they grew up. that will not be the case for george bush. the library will be at smu, the alma mater of his wife. host: a question on office staff. do we have benefits for former members of congress as well? guest: there is nothing i know of statutorily.
they do get pensions. there is an algorithm that sets up. if you are in the earlier pension, is about $70,000 a year. if you are in the more recent category, you are about $40,000 a year. host: john from kentucky, independent caller. caller: my grandfather was a world war i veteran. my father was world war ii, korea, and vietnam. i did three tours in vietnam. the bottom line is i have been waiting three years for my g-8 stuff.
i get $2,500 a month. it is taxable, by the way. i am a retired first sergeant. how can anybody realize the difference between the two? i realize i was just a dumb guy with a rifle in the front. as a top of my friends, we're overwhelmed and the money these people get paid. for what? none of them have done a job in the last 20 years that i know of. just a comment. i really enjoy your program. guest: i want to thank you for your service. i think it is amazing. i think there are jobs as a former president. they do things after they have left office. there are a bunch of examples of
former presidents doing amazing things in some doing not as amazing things. herbert hoover coordinated food supplies for world famine. he also chaired the hoover commission to put a lot of administrative requirements on the federal government to make sure that federal records were kept so we could look at the successes and misses of the federal government. andrew jackson bred horses. maybe not as public as somebody like herbert hoover. rutherford hayes fought for education for blacks and whites. presidents today to a lot of on nonprofits. they work to make changes they think they could not or would not make as presidents. they use the platform later and perform these duties. host: there is a debate happening on twitter.
this is an individual saying this. people are talking about this as we take a look at the benefits and perks presidents are getting after they leave office on this presidents day. we go to doris next. caller: a great program. givene first lady's analysts after their husbands leave office? guest: former first ladies do not receive anything until they are widows. widows are authorized to be provided 20,000 lives a year in benefits after their husband passes away as long as they do not marry. if they remarry, they lose those benefits. currently, there is no way to
accepting the $20,000. in order to accept it, you have to not accept any other pension. you would only get the $20,000. apparently, the other first ladies have other sources of income they find more compelling than what is provided by the former presidents act. the bill introduced in the 112th congress would have changed about $20,000 to $100,000 a year. everywhere owes it was looking to trim costs. with the first ladies, they felt it needed to be addressed. host: lorraine, democratic caller. caller: my question deals with the question you had a couple of minutes ago. you said the presidents continue to receive benefits whether they are wealthy or not. there is no difference in those.
you said they receive them because of their service. i agree with that. i am wondering why there is talk of benefits to servicemen being cut. they have also served their country. they have their lives on the line. why is there talk of them losing any benefits at all when presidents are not losing benefits when they are both serving the country? host: sue, washington, republican caller. caller: i am a retired navy wife. my husband is dod employed.
with the sequestration coming up, will the presidents take cuts? do they get cost-of-living increases and pay raises based on time in service? my husband has gotten none, military or dod in five years. i am curious about how that will work. guest: the pension is tied to executive level one pay. that increases. they would increase as well. the bill in the 100th of congress would have set the level at $200,000 a year. cost-of-living increases would have been provided based on bureau of labor statistics data. host: she was talking about sequestration, automatic spending cuts. guest: i believe sequestration would have all parts of government.
it is not clear how the agencies would respond. i have not heard anything about the benefits of former presidents. i assume some cuts would be made to this program as well as others. most agencies have not been clear on what sequestration might do to affect their budgets and operations. host: liz has this comment on twitter. sam, colorado, independent caller. caller: how successful were these presidents when they went into office? what was their status when they came out? i would like to see those figures on other politicians. is that information available on the internet? how can you find out? guest: you see presidents fall over the field. there have been some very successful presidents that went into office.
herbert hoover wrote the textbook on mining and engineering that everybody bought. he owned mines. he was a wealthy man when he went in and came out. he used that wealth and pulp as a former president to embark on different things he believed in. things like fighting against world famine, and chairing the hoover commission. i keep looking at my notes because i am not an historian. there are two famous stories about poor presidents. ulysses s. grant left office and went around the world on a trip with his wife. he spent a lot of money. he invested the rest of it with his son. apparently, he was doing shady deals and lost all the money.
he lived off of money provided by friends until he started writing memoirs. at the time, that might not have been an acceptable thing for a former president to do. he wrote his war memoirs. he talked to mark twain about writing his presidential memoirs. there were published by mark twain's publishing company. he did that days before he died to provide money for his wife and children. host: vivian in tennessee, a democratic caller. caller: i am calling to talk about the pay the presidents receive after they leave office. they are talking about how we have a deficit and will not have money in the future. why do we not take some money from them? they're cutting everybody else's salary.
the soldiers are not getting the money. they put their countries and the line. something is wrong with this country. have a good day. host: does congress have oversight? guest: congress wrote ala. congress has oversight and authorities over every lot it creates. the general services administration has the authority to determine if the choices made by the president in terms of office space and travel, they negotiate all the deals and sign all of the documents. the general services administration is charged with making sure the former presidents act is followed in spirit and law. the numbers we have seen today are made public. the last time there was an
examination by the government accountability office was in 2001 when they were looking at travel and office space. host: on twitter, they are referring to the debate over medicare and social security. lee, rockville, maryland, republican caller. go ahead. caller: i am one of your colleagues at the library of congress. i have today off, as you know. the former vice president spiro agnew had problems with the law. he got convicted. he pleaded no contest to taking bribes and other things. what happened to his attention? guest: the vice-president is not provided a pension directly in the act. i can talk about what happens to presidents who might have had troubles in office. the articles of impeachment were brought against clinton.
he was not found guilty in the senate and was not removed from office. richard nixon left office and was not removed. they were eligible to receive benefits provided to former presidents. it is not tested whether somebody removed by impeachment would receive these benefits. host: a right-wing response to the comments about george w. bush saying he saved your hide from the terrorists. when do the presidents receive this money? is it one payout each year or monthly? guest: i believe it is a monthly pension. i do not think they get one installment. host: do the presidents request the amount of money they need for different things and break it down for the government?
guest: they talk to the office of management and budget. it comes out in the president's budget recommendations about what they have said they will need for that year. a lot of it is set by statute. office space is negotiated through gsa. host: we will go to bill, arlington, texas, independent caller. caller: thank you for taking my call. i was a teacher years back. this was one of the projects i gave on the benefits and pensions for presidents. i was amazed at the research that came out of that. i keep a couple of papers. i still have them. what she is saying is very
accurate. the numbers have escalated from 20 years ago. what are some of the benefits and pensions of other world leaders such as canada and mexico? guest: i am looking at mexico with our colleagues. i have looked at canada and britain. in britain, it is about 100,000 pounds a year plus inflation. in canada, they just changed the law one or two years ago. it depends on how many years you have of service as prime minister. you get benefits as prime minister and as a member of parliament. it is a different form of government. you get both.
looking at mexico is important. we're trying to track that down. it is a really old bill. from what i hear and have read in news reports, the mexican former presidents have a stylish pension. i am waiting to get resources to verify that right now. host: is that something the congressional research service receives a directive from congress to look into? guest: it is a non-partisan research group that works directly for congress. they can write reports to make sure congress has answers whenever they need to look at these ideas or they can anticipate congress's needs to write reports to anticipate what they will lead in the future. host: the next caller is from houston. caller: when you are president,
that is a job. they have to be protected. not everybody can be a president. ok? host: wendy ginsberg? guest: that is what a lot of members of congress are saying. it is a job. it has an eight-year time limit. does that mean you do not get to work for 30 years of a pension when another employee with? these are excellent debates that go on in congress. these are ideas that it bounced back and forth. are they getting paid too much for eight years of service? are they not getting paid for a really hard job they work for eight years? host: wendy ginsberg, thank you
for your time this morning. >> in his state of the union address, president obama proposed raising the minimum wage. on the next "washington journal," a look at how that would affect our economy. for more, jennifer erickson and chris edwards will take a look at the present's proposals for job creation. and jefferson keel will talk about social and cultural issues among native americans. "washington journal" is live every day on c-span at 7:00 a.m. eastern. >> live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span, a look